Viral Propaganda: Camouflage and Deception as a Weapon

Viral Propaganda: Camouflage and Deception as a Weapon 

In the first part of this article, I used the example of "memes" to explain how cultural information units are spread through reproduction. Fact-checker platforms have the task of creating viral memes that are supposed to spread successfully and quickly. In doing so, these platforms make use of (supposedly) rational information to reject (allegedly) empty, illogical or simply false ideas.

The technostructure has created a widespread network of such "platforms" in no time at all: The "International Fact Checking Network" (IFCN) [1], which in turn is affiliated to the Poynter Institute [2], is one of the most powerful players in the market. Its donors include the Democracy Fund, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Omidyar Network Fund and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

In the shadow of the public
Another such global initiative is the Trusted News Initiative (TNI). The TNI has been in existence since 2019 and was founded by news producers and tech companies to protect users from misinformation spread by Fake News. Members include AFP, BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, the European Broadcasting Union, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Reuters or The Hindu but also Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter, First Draft or Facebook.
TNI was founded just weeks after a Reuters Institute report showed that trust in the US media had fallen to an all-time low of just 29% - the lowest among the 46 countries included.[3]

Michael Meyen, professor of communication studies in Munich, followed in the footsteps of the TNI for a commentary in [4]:

"This Trusted News Initiative, founded in 2019, largely runs under the radar. A few short articles on the website of the BBC, which seems to be a kind of spiritus rector here, almost word-for-word announcements at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in which ARD, ZDF, SRG and ORF [5] are also members, as well as a mention in an essay dealing with the fight against "misinformation" in Spain.(...) That's not much. (...) The reason for the foundation, as one learns in all these texts, was elections in Great Britain, Taiwan and the USA, keyword Donald Trump, but then they quickly turned their attention to Corona and finally vaccination."

The "fact-checkers", says Michael Meyen, are the part of the game we can all see - but are apparently not supposed to decipher.[6]

Cooperation is meant to be disrupted
In our globalised, digitalised world, technostructure empires and media corporations work to monopolise the dissemination of opinion. These political communicators ensure that AI optimises the replication, modification and selection of information. In doing so, these new hegemonic actors have enormous technical and financial resources at their disposal.
Their one-sided, highly abbreviated messages benefit from two essential characteristics of the human brain to which every form of propaganda owes its success: laziness in thinking (to save energy) and a preference for simplification (humans think in causal chains).
Fact-checking platforms act as production sites for the simplest opinion-forming. They act in the service of the technostructure, which secures sovereignty in its own information space. This has devastating effects in the various temporal dimensions:
a) in the present through the formation of opinion "ex cathedra" and defamation of dissenters
b) into the future through indoctrination and stereotyping of public opinion
c) into the past by "overwriting" information and "creating" its own historical "truth".
The basis for evolution and the development of all life in this world is communication, coordination and cooperation. Successful cooperation presupposes that information for communication has its counterpart in the actual. Anything else would be dysfunctional and destroy cooperation.
There are countless examples from nature and evolution of misinformation or the pretence of incorrect facts being used as a weapon or to gain a competitive advantage (camouflage & deception). The fact-checking platforms and their technostructure networks behind them are clearly not concerned with the exchange of information for the purpose of coordination and cooperation. They are concerned with camouflage and deception for the assertion of their own hegemonic claims to power.
From an evolutionary point of view, every increase in knowledge gradually leads to new values that are suitable for forming the ethical-moral basis for political action. We must therefore always strive for an unconditional and unbiased increase in knowledge. Recognised humanitarian principles (human rights, right to self-determination of peoples, etc.) can form the political corrective in such a process.

This article was first published in Courrier des Stratèges on December 26th, 2022.





[5] these are the public media institutions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, note.